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Rediscovering the communal joy of Eid

  • 27 May 2021
The celebration of Eid Al-Fitr (the feast of breaking the fast) marks the end of Ramadan fasting. And this year, it has been a relief more than anything. It feels ‘normal’ again.

The global pandemic saw the mosque close its doors to worshippers during the holiest month in the Islamic calendar. It was void of the nightly congregational prayer special to Ramadan, taraweeh, that we attend in the evenings after the last daily prayer and after breaking our day-long fast. COVID-19 pulled the rug right under my feet. Gone was the quick dash from dining table to closet to car and then to the local mosque. What I can say about Ramadan in 2020 is that I endured.

In 2020, I would look back longingly on Ramadan nights at the mosque, even the ones where I would arrive late and quickly fall into line, hoping nobody would notice (they always did). I missed the familiar faces.

I feel as though I grew up there and so did many young Muslims. It was there we learned to worship as a community. Each new generation follows the same pattern: those who were once children there would grow up and bring their own children to worship with their community.

The elderly women I’d come to see as family would greet me upon arrival, their faces eager and beaming with the Ramadan high. Taraweeh is an annual rite and one that we hold on to dearly.

Ramadan is a lot of things, no water, no food, no swearing. Yet, one thing that is upheld is prayer or salat. In many faiths, prayer is a sacred act; in Islam it is a tenet. I tried to hold on to this in 2020, despite the absence of the community-led momentum. It was difficult, because although faith is a deeply personal relationship between an individual and God, without a community to share this with you can quickly become lonely and isolated.

'In the moment of preparing for the day, I remembered what it felt to make an effort and how my mum instilled in us a respect for the tradition and celebratory spirit of Eid'

The history of the taraweeh prayer is one of community building. The practice of taraweeh prayer began with a small group of worshippers who observed the Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) praying on a night in Ramadan and grew in size until the mosque was full of worshippers. It was not